The media is accusing President Donald Trump of making false claims about late-term abortion, even though explicit comments from Democratic lawmakers and the text of abortion-related bills back up his statements.
During his Saturday night rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the president said, “The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby. I don’t think so.”
Other news outlets used equally or more aggressive language in knocking down what they viewed as Trump’s “lie”:
Mother Jones: “Trump Has a New Go-To Lie About Abortion, and It’s Horrific”
Think Progress: “Trump’s anti-abortion rhetoric is getting out of control”
HuffPost: “Trump Pushes Dangerous Abortion Lies At Wisconsin Rally”
ABC 15: “Trump lies about abortion at Wisconsin rally”
New York Daily News: “Trump wildly — and falsely — declares that people in Wisconsin can ‘execute’ babies”
Rolling Stone: “Watch Trump Dismantle Your Will to Live During His Unhinged Rally”
Trump’s comments come after Wisconsin lawmakers failed to pass a law that punishes doctors who do not provide care to babies who survive a botched abortion. While legal experts say babies who survive abortions are already protected under the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, pro-life activists point out that there are currently no civil or criminal penalties for non-compliance.
New York legislators passed a bill, dubbed the “Reproductive Health Act,” in early 2019 that decriminalizes abortion occurring after a child is at 24 weeks gestation. The bill allows medical practitioners to legally perform abortions past 24 weeks if a fetus is not viable or if the mother’s health is at risk — including her mental health.
According to FactCheck.org, the RHA also repeals a section of public health law “that an additional physician be present for abortions after 20 weeks to care for ‘any live birth that is the result of the abortion’; and that such babies be provided ‘immediate legal protection under the laws of the state of New York.'”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam stoked fears that such a law could allow babies to die or be killed if they survive an abortion procedure with his comments on a similar law that was proposed in Virginia. Northam, when talking about babies with deformities, said, “if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” (RELATED: Virginia Gov. Asked About Abortion Until Birth. He Floats Infanticide)
At the same time that politicians debate the consequences of loosened restrictions on third-trimester abortions, congressional Democrats have repeatedly blocked measures aimed at protecting babies who survive abortion procedures. To the Republicans who are pushing the protections, rejecting care or nourishment for abortion survivors is akin to “execution,” “murder,” or “infanticide.”
Northam’s comment that a mother could choose to abort a baby after birth, combined with Democratic legislators’ resistance to protecting the survivors of botched abortions, suggest Trump is not as off-base as the media says.
While cases of botched abortion survivors are rare, they do exist.
Melissa Ohden survived a saline-injection abortion 40 years ago after an on-duty nurse rushed her to the NICU. The doctor who performed the abortion wanted the nurse to let Ohden die.
“No one’s life, no survivor’s care, should be dependent upon who is working that day. A law that clearly states that abortion survivors have equal protection and that there are legal consequences for abortionists failing to do so is important and necessary,” Ohden told The Daily Signal last January.
Jill Stanek, a registered nurse and the national campaign chairwoman for the Susan B. Anthony List, says that she personally saw babies being left to die when she worked at a hospital in 1999.
“I am a registered nurse and discovered in 1999 [that] at the hospital where I was working in the labor and delivery department was involved in late-term abortions, and the procedure that was used sometimes resulted in babies being aborted alive,” Stanek claimed. “And if they were aborted alive, they were shelved to die in the department’s toilet utility room.”
CNN claimed in its fact check of the president that late-term abortions are “often” due to fetal non viability.
“Dr. Jennifer Conti, a fellow with the advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Health and co-host of The V Word podcast, said, ‘Those exceptionally rare cases that happen after 24 weeks are often because a fetus has a condition that cannot be treated and will never be able to survive — regardless of the gestational age or trimester,'” CNN wrote.
But a study from the University of California, San Francisco found most women who sought late-term abortions did so for the same reasons as women who received first-term abortions: “They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and nulliparous.”